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Research Help: Copyright

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Public Domain

The Public Domain refers to works for which the copyright has expired (pre January 1, 1923), the copyright holder has placed in the public domain through a special license, and in certain other cases. These works can be used in any manner without permission. 

Here are some good places to find Public Domain resources:

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Primary Source Sets

  • Primary source collections grouped by topic including history, literature, and culture. Discover photos, letters, sound recordings, advertising, posters, and more. 

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

  • Access the wide collection of the LOC. Check the copyright permissions for each image for details.

NASA Images

  • Some images are copyrighted and some are free to use. Check each photo for information.

National Gallery of Art

  • Images from the National Gallery of Art which can be downloaded and shared.


  • Find creative commons licensed images to reuse.

Smithsonian Libraries

  • Discover online art, books, photos, and more from the Smithsonian collections.